29th Year of the TFL

The kick off the the 2012-2013 NFL season will mark the 29th year of the TFL or Toumi Football League. It’s official now that we have set a draft date for Las Vegas and renewed the league software. Surprisingly we have all the same owners returning, of which 4 are original members and 3 others who have been in the league for 25 years. It’s a great group of long time friends, with the addition of 3 newer owners when the league expanded to 10 teams.

As has become tradition, we hold our annual fantasy football draft in Las Vegas. Originally we started out at The Palms, where we had been the previous 10 years, but after one our owners took The Palms for about $25,000 one visit, they no longer welcomed our business they once did. Last year we moved to The Hard Rock Hotel, which is just a nice and more convenient to the Vegas Strip for those wanting see the sights.

The fantasy draft lasts the weekend, owners fly in on Friday and go home on Sunday. Friday afternoon means a poolside cabana, non-stop beer and food, while we lounge around waiting for all the owners to show up. It’s a time to catch up with long time friends, who in my case I saw last year at this time. During this time some might do a little bit of gambling, most prefer blackjack. Yet the don’t like when I sit at the table since I inevitably end up playing wrong and losing them money.

As the sun starts to set we vacate the cabana for our hotel rooms to clean up and get ready for dinner. While we no longer stay at The Palms, our traditional dinner at N9Nes Steakhouse. This restaurant has some of the best steak I had ever tasted, yet this year with my change in diet, I might find dinner a bit challenging. I am hoping for some sashimi for appetizer and a baked potato with steamed vegetables for dinner. No steak, I don’t want to take 2 steps backwards. After a round of drinks, we are seated and the fun begins. After drinks and during appetizers the “Pulling of The Ace” occurs. This is where we take playing cards numbered 2 through 9 and the ace. In reverse finishing order of last year we shuffle the playing cards and draw cards to determine where we will draft.

After dinner owners take up different activities. In years past (at The Palms) we were comped tickets for shows. Usually it’s to casino floor at The Hard Rock for some gambling, depending on your game of choice. I am hoping to play some blackjack this year, but will most likely end up watching the wheel spin at the roulette table. Craps is another game I am learning, but probably won’t play. As the night wears on some owners “hit the town” while others remain at the casino.

Saturday morning is usually a bit of a slow start, with some owners nursing a hangover. Breakfast is the first order of business, talk a little football and review notes and cheat sheets as it relates to the draft. About 10am we make our way poolside and to our cabana. What’s nice about our draft is that a majority of the cabana fees are offset by the fees we collected the previous year from the waiver wire. This year we have over $800 to help offset our cost.

As the commissioner I set up the board and we go over rules and possible changes to the upcoming season. Most of this information has been disseminated in the months leading up to the draft, but it’s common for very little discussion to take place. If we have a majority at the cabana on Friday, we might make change rules then as well. It was done last year to our waiver wire when 5 owners agreed to change the waiver wire and cap it at $200 per owner.

Once the board is set up it’s the responsibility of the Tidy Bowl Award Winner or “Beer Bitch” as the owner who came in last place, last season to man the draft board. Once the last minute details are worked out and any owners wanting to move draft positions (last year we had 4 owners swap) we start the draft.

The draft usually lasts 3-4 hours as we traditionally draft 18 rounds. This year we are decreasing that to 16 rounds, so it might speed things up by 30 minutes. Once the draft is over we start comparing teams and making predictions. This is also something I do on our league site, a complete preview of each team, their strengths, weaknesses and what their projected finish will be. I can’t say I have been all that accurate, but it’s a discussion point.

Unfortunately I have only stayed the weekend when we first adopted this tradition. Since getting married and having a son, I have made it an overnight trip for the last 8 years. Saturday afternoon is much like Friday after the conclusion of the draft, hanging out poolside in the cabana. There is a low key dinner at a local restaurant, followed by more gambling. It’s a great way to kick off our fantasy football season with a wonderful group of long time friends.

Access Denied by SmartFilter

“Access Denied by SmartFilter.” This is becoming a more and more common response when I attempt to access web sites from work. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that the filtering of web sites is probably a common practice at places of employment. I read a statistic, “almost 40 per cent of internet use in companies is non-work related.” So does that mean users are spending more time on the Internet and being less productive? That same story goes on to say, “most visits to pornographic web pages occur during working hours, with two out of every three visits to pornographic web pages occurring during working hours (source). Wow! I would NEVER consider trying to drop in on a porn site at work, even by mistake.

Some of the other common responses from SmartFilter have been due to; Mature, Extreme, Chat and Gambling. I understand that many companies monitor Internet usage. I heard a stat, but I can’t recall where that something like 71% of employers monitor their employees. Now, honestly, I don’t care if I am monitored. I don’t go to web sites I don’t belong at. Some of the sites I attempt to access, like www.urbanterror.net has been filtered for ‘Extreme’ or ‘Mature.’ I assume that is based solely on the word, “terror.” I am slowly loosing access to forums I accessed on a regular basis because this is not considered, ‘Chat.’ Just the other day my access to www.mercurycougar.net was taken away for this reason. Prior to that the Urban Terror Forums and Above Top Secret were both taken from me.

I am sure your uninformed Internet user accesses Ebay on a regular basis, wouldn’t you think? I know it happens pretty regular at my employer. When will that web site be filtered for God knows what. Shopping? I admit, I search Ebay now and then for Cougar parts and cars, but don’t spend all 8 hours of work there.

More recently there has been a crack down on streaming media sites. I am sure this is the last thing employers want are users sucking up all the bandwidth watching YouTube.com or any of the other video sites out there. Now, I will admit I still stream audio at night. One by one my radio stations are being filtered out, such as KRXQ in Sacramento. Currently I listen to KOMP out of Las Vegas. I even sat here one night on NASA TV waiting for the arrival of the space shuttle.

I have been approached by some IT guy who told me that streaming audio eats up “serious bandwidth” and not to do it. I did not want to argue with him, when he does not have his facts straight on how little bandwidth is actually used. Not to mention, this was being streamed in the middle of the night, where I will venture a guess that Internet usage is probably very, very low. Again, just a guess on my part, maybe it was the principal of the whole thing. Bring a radio you say? I did, unfortunately it gets no reception in our office, situated on the ground floor with all sorts of interference.

It becomes more frustrating every day when you try to access a favorite site and it has been filtered out. Is this supposed to make me more productive as an employee? Probably, but the fact of the matter is, when I am on the Internet, I have very little work to do. Considering what I do for my employer there is time to dabble on the Internet while doing my job. Multitasking is something I can do, but again, I don’t think my employer, or any employer really gives a shit when it comes to tasking my job responsibility and the Internet.

If they do not want me on the Internet, then you better take my access away, because honestly that will be the only way to stop me. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Internet access, that is the age we live in. We need information at our fingertips. And I can honestly say that I have used the Internet for work related items previously. Since our office is no longer has cable television, it’s kinda of difficult to get up to the minute news. God forbid we have a serious crisis, like a terrorist attack or earthquake and no cable television.

What Happens in Vegas…

As mentioned I was headed to Vegas this past weekend for our fantasy football draft that is held at The Palms. Usually it is poolside in our cabana, but this year the start of the draft was pushed back until 5pm due to one owner who had to do pictures with his kid’s sports teams on Saturday and was not able to get in on Friday, like myself. As mentioned, it is usually a 3-day weekend, arriving Friday and departing Sunday morning or early afternoon. This year was the first time I actually stayed the night. Honestly, I had no choice as there were no flights departing at time we would be done.

I was planning on taking an 1045am trip from San Francisco, with a 2 hour layover in Fresno and then on to Vegas, arriving about 415pm. I got lucky when I arrived at the airport and made my way around security [more on that in another post] and to my office. There was a trip leaving in like 15 minutes and there was one seat remaining, which I was given, so I quickly made my way up to the gate and seat my ass down, ready to go. This was cool, because after out minor mechanical delay I got there about 1230pm and was poolside by 115pm.

I took at $25 cab ride to The Palms and called up to the suites where we were staying. No answer, so I headed poolside. As I walk out the door I see my group waiting for their cabana to be made up. I had not even said hello to all the guys and a drink was pushed into my hand. This is sort of how the weekend went. Since I was not really planning on staying, I did not bring a change of clothes or bathing suit. But not to worry, my buddies picked me up with shoes, a shirt and a suit. As mentioned, I was poolside by 115pm at the cabana ordering a Long Island Iced Tea.

for the next 3 hours we lounged around and hung out in the pool. As I told my wife, this is the only time during the year I really get to hang out with guys I grew up with and talk about the past and growing up, along with bullshitting about football and life, in general. The drink flowed through out the early afternoon hours from sweet drinks to Coors Light. This for starters.

A couple of the guys went to check out the blackjack tables, I headed inside for a bit to see if Roulette was worth playing. I guess when no one is at the wheel, not much good is bound to happen. I blew $40 on the slots and quit, went back outside for more sun, pool and beer as we waited for the last owner to arrive.

To be honest, the pool scene is not me. Never has been. But I tell you what, compared to my buddies, I look good! Most of these guys are into their mid-30s like myself, but all have developed a beer belly over the years. Even those [which is most of them] who were athletes! Thankfully my gut was nowhere as “developed” as theirs. So I felt right at home with a bunch of pale white guys with a beer in my hand.

Once the last owner arrived, he was a few drinks behind, so a round of Patron Silver tequila was delivered to the cabana and shots passed out. While he now had one drink in him, it was not long before he had caught up with us and we were ready to draft.

The draft is the main reason we are there. It does make for a great weekend event, but there are more of us with kids and families these days. I think we only have two bachelors in our group at this point. We pulled playing cards to see who would get the top draft and what the remaining order would be. I pulled the 3 card, not bad as it was one of the higher choices I have had recently. The draft itself lasted about 3.5 hours, so we pushed back dinner reservations from 9pm to 930pm at The N9NES Steakhouse.

Now I had heard about “The N9NES” but never did experience it or eat at it. I must say their steak was some of the best I have ever had. I chose a 16 ounce fillet, rare. OMFG! It was tender, juice, the best! No other way to describe it. At that point of the night, I started in on scotch and water after countless drinks and only a half of a cold steak sandwich while poolside. So any food that was put in front of the table was devoured. Unlike those other upscale restaurants, The N9NES was jumping with activity and loud. Too loud for my taste actually. It was mainly the music, but it was bearable. After appetizers, and our meal, which was ala carte and numerous rounds of drink, dinner was over. The damage was close to $900!

It was now time to gamble, hopefully not all the money you brought, away. I am nowhere the high roller these guys are. Hell, I am the same guy who said, “damn a $5 roulette table, thats too much for me.” Haha…so I find it rather funny I took a seat with two buddies at a $15 blackjack table. I find it even funnier that I told my wife I won some money, but then went back and dropped a $50 bet and hit blackjack! That is when I called it a night, about $375 up on Las Vegas. It’s nice to go home, but even nicer when you win money and not loose it to the house.

So that was the trip, all in all a great time being in Vegas, hanging with my buddies, talking shit, drinking, eating and drafting football. Not sure 3 days is in my future when this rolls around next August, the last weekend in the month, but rest assured we will all be looking forward to it. Oh, by the way most of the weekend was comped. I don’t ask questions and don’t want details, but it has something to do with how much money some of the guys spend playing in the casino.